I welcomed a guest into my apartment on Friday for the first time since the pandemic began (other than an HVAC tech or two). We’ve both been Covid-cautious and had been tracking our potential exposures carefully. We agreed transmission risk was low.
I wasn’t in the habit of having guests over last winter, so it may have been more than a year since I had to make sure any space other than my Zoom corner was presentable.
Vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen were obvious starting points. But soon I came to consider the “studio” area of my apartment, a prominent wall of half-completed art, miscellaneous scraps and odd posters. It has gradually become a mishmash of nostalgia and inspiration: a poster from a bike race in Minneapolis, a prized handwritten set list from an early Low concert, test prints from last years’ Half/Life zine, sketches and half-completed map-paintings, a storyboard and scribbled notes for one version of my neglected novel.
To a visitor entering my apartment for the first time, this wall of abandoned drawings and paintings is the center of attention. It is the largest, busiest and most colorful wall in the main room of my apartment. It’s messy, and I like it that way; creative ideas are often messy. But I’ve neglected this wall. I’ve been working with text so much in the past couple of years that the visuals on the wall have grown stale to me. Without visitors to comment on it and discuss the ideas I’m (apparently) working on, the wall is just a background, part of my environment, taken for granted.
Having someone else around to ask about the half-finished paintings and visual inspiration gives them new life. It’s a chance to talk about the visual ideas, what I was struggling with creatively and personally when I interrupted these drawings and shifted towards the written word. Sharing with other people and sparking a dialogue is a big part of what makes a scrap of paper art.
The guest was more important than a wall and some housecleaning, of course. I made a nice dinner. We shared a bottle of wine. It was a good. What applies to art, applies to life. Sharing and conversation are what make it a life.